Sonic Youth Simon Werner A Disparu(SYR) Buy it from Insound
Firstly, I haven’t seen the film that the band are sound-tracking, nor do I know anything about it, so this is a voyage into the sonic world only. How this album rates as an auditory accompaniment to the visual world created in the film is not in question here, nor, it turns out, does it really need to be, as this album is a marvel in it’s own right.
You realise what a deep and penetrating cut into the music world a band like Sonic Youth has made when they can construct even the meekest, smallest and fractured little sound with a guitar and it’s instantly recognisable as being them. They have taken a ubiquitous tool and defined it and that is an attribute that very few can boast. Yes, it’s Sonic Youth here, but largely as we have never seen them before, they rear their head just enough to remind us it’s them, but keep it covered enough to almost make one think it could be an entirely different project. The album is often restrained, tame even at times - but rather than being background fodder or being relaxed, it gives more the feeling that you are walking around a cage while the beast is still asleep and could be awoken at any moment. At times, there is a malevolent amount of tension in the record; it builds from the base of the spine and keeps your back rigid and your hands jittery, making you a nervous wreck in the comfort of your own home. It’s a beautiful molestation of the senses. The album is also intensely scenic in parts; the piano keys that strike are mournful yet optimistic and create a sensuous and fractured soundscape, which coupled with the angular and serrated guitar strikes makes an ever evolving and often a delightfully erratic album.
Steve Shelley’s recent time spent in Hallogallo 2010 with Neu!’s Michael Rother perhaps has infiltrated the groups spirit somewhat, as the humble, plaintive and often lucid nature of some songs feel like they have been touched up with a German brush or two - see Au Cafè and the 13+ minute Theme d’Alice in particular. It’s undeniably the piano’s inclusion that adds a dimension to the record and subsequently unearths another aspect of a band you thought you had already tired of digging for further discoveries. Like oil, it seems, with Sonic Youth the further you dig the more you extract. At no point whatsoever in this album do you ever really feel like you need a visual accompaniment or even that you are listening to a soundtrack at all. At just under an hour it never enervates, it is as vital an exploration and auditory journey as any other Sonic Youth record. For a band as brash and sonically alienating as they can be, Sonic Youth are in full on vortex mode here, sucking you in into a world of lush densities and hypnotic soundscapes that makes it impossible to escape. The sheer depth and variety of tones, textures and tensions on this record make it a cinematic experience in itself. Film is an art form rooted deep in the need to explore and display the complexities of human emotion, and Sonic Youth have captured that exploration perfectly and transformed it into a piece of work that not only embodies the various degrees of emotions and thoughts we all experience, but it creates new ones whilst doing so, through it’s exploratory and deeply affecting methods.2 February, 2011 - 22:30 — Daniel Dylan Wray